Tales of Remarkable Birds by Dominic Couzens | Bloomsbury | 2015 | Hardback | ISBN: 9781408190234

The Publisher’s View: Throughout the bird world, examples of strange and seemingly inexplicable behaviors abound. For example: Why do Male Fairywrens bring flowers to females as a nuptial gift in the pre-dawn darkness? Especially when the gift-givers are not the official mates of the females concerned, but visitors, and furthermore they may give these gifts in full view of the official mate. Why do gangs of White-winged Choughs “kidnap” their neighbors’ fledglings and then keep them in their “gang”? Which bird is so big, strong and fierce that stories abound of it killing humans? Tales of Remarkable Birds looks at accounts of murderous Cassowaries and explains just what might have happened. What happens in an albatross “divorce”?

Tales of Remarkable Birds divides the world by continent and takes a series of extraordinary stories from each to illustrate a great diversity of bird behavior. Each continent will have around five or six stories, each described in 1 500 to 2 000 words and examining the truths and the mythology behind each example. An intriguing book from an author with an ability to engage with his audience.

The Author: Dominic Couzens has written many books on birds and other wildlife including The Secret Lives of British Birds, The Secret Lives of Garden Birds and The Secret Lives of Garden Wildlife, all published by Christopher Helm. His most recent book is The Secret Lives of Puffins with photographer Mark Sisson.

Fatbirder View: When I saw the size and cover of this book I made the assumption that it was something of a coffee-table pot-boiler and I could not have been more wrong. I took a quick look at the pictures, most of which are excellent (the exception being some of the double page spreads which are just shy of razor sharp). Seeing a lot of familiar species and many I have seen on overseas trips I started to dip in and soon found I had read dozens of the entries on a whole variety of birds.

The thing is that this is not only well written and knowledgeable (you would expect that of Dominic who is one of our most prolific birding authors) but covers some lesser known facts and remarkable species accounts. It lived up to its name after just one or two entries. Every so often I found myself saying ‘I never knew that’ over and over. Now I am pretty well travelled and have read half a library of bird books and the ‘well I never’ moments are increasingly rare.

If I learnt so much from this then most readers will and it is incredibly accessible to. I challenge any non-birder out there, perhaps some hapless spouse forced to listen to their other half drone on about birds. Take a look, read a few of the many ‘stories’ and you will not only pull out the earplugs, you will be joining your spouse on field trips!

FatbirderBuy this book from NHBS